The Best Roman History Books of 2021

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Are you looking for the best books on ancient history in Rome? Are you struggling to find good books about the Roman Revolution? If you can answer yes to either question, then you have come to the right place.

If you thought that ancient Rome was all gladiators and togas, you are sadly mistaken. Fortunately for us, Roman history is not like an episode of Hercules. Instead, you are a history student seeking information for an assignment or simply a historian or educator looking for texts to supplement your lectures. This is a robust list of the best books on ancient Rome. These texts will present an in-depth picture of what life in Rome was like.

However, in addition to providing you with an exceptional list of books, we will also provide you with tips on how to choose your Roman history books. Though this is a great list, there are several options outside of the items listed here. All you have to do is keep reading for an abundance of information.

If you want to just get back to studying, get our top pick for roman history books here.
Our Top Favorite
SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome
Our Top Runner Up
The Roman Revolution
Our Top Value Pick
The History of Rome
Book Title
SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome
The Roman Revolution
The History of Rome
Prime Eligible?
Our Top Favorite
SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome
Book Title
SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome
Prime Eligible?
Our Top Runner Up
The Roman Revolution
Book Title
The Roman Revolution
Prime Eligible?
Our Top Value Pick
The History of Rome
Book Title
The History of Rome
Prime Eligible?

Last update: 2021-04-17

Our Favorites for Best Roman History Books

SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome by Mary Beard

SPQR: A History of AncientRome is considered to be an instant classic. Mary Beard brings history to life through this text and is often recognized as one of the most respected Roman historians. Mary Beard has taken the most notable moments from Roman history and presented them within the text. The author doesn’t just include formation on significant figures like Cesar but regular people, laws, and various other topics. The book ends in 212 AD.

What Makes it Unique:

  • The text begins with a series of maps. These maps show Rome throughout the ages and present a picture of their progression.
  • The text begins with Cicero’s Finest Hour and looks at the origins of Rome. However, SPQR: A History of AncientRome covers only the first millennium; this period begins around 753 BC and stops at 212 AD.
  • Mary Beard also provides insight into Caracalla. Caracalla substantially changed what it meant to be Roman after adjusting more than 30 million provincials into Romans overnight.
  • SPQR within the title of the text stands for the Senate and the People of Rome. This is considered a period where the People and the Senate exercised their power within Rome.
  • This is a text which provides little information regarding women or the military of Rome. Instead, throughout the book, Mary questions what we know about the Roman culture and challenges that.

Why Choose This Roman History Book:

  • SPQR: A History of AncientRome is a synthesis of over 1000 years of Roman history. Mary Beard delivers a text which is still able to teach familiar readers about Ancient Rome.
  • This is an excellent text to use when attempting to brush up on the history of the Roman Empire. This is an excellent book for students interested in Roman history or studying Rome.

On Sale
SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome
SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome
  • Liveright Publishing Corporation
  • Beard, Mary (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

Last update: 2021-04-17


Rubicon the Last Years of the Roman Republic by Tom Holland

Rubicon, the Last Years of the RomanRepublic, provides a historical account of Rome moving from a republic to an empire. The book gets its name from the Rubicon River, which Julius Crossed with his army to begin the war, which took Rome on the path to an empire. The text even won the Hessell-Tiltman Prize in 2004.

What Makes it Unique:

  • Tom Holland provides a historical narrative of the Roman Republic’s transformation.
  • The text is well written and showcases Tom Holland’s list of storytelling. The author relies on several primary resources to draw his information from.
  • The author provides a comprehensive look at 100 years of the Roman Republic. He also includes information on what is potentially going through the minds of several leaders and prominent figures during this time period.
  • Rubicon, the Last Years of the RomanRepublic, will also give readers insight into Christianity. With this text, many users should understand why the timing was so crucial for the onset of Christianity. This understanding also made bible stories for some readers more intriguing.
  • The text is presented narratively with vibrant language. This book reads much like a novel.
  • Tom Holland provides information on several notable names within Roman culture. These include Cato, Marcus Cicero, Cleopatra, and many more. It is a text plagued with war and violence.

Why Choose This Roman History Book:

  • If you are interested in Roman history, Christianity, or are a student looking for supplemental texts; this is the book for you.
  • Many readers recommend this text for high school and college students in History or Political courses.

On Sale
Rubicon
Rubicon
  • Anchor Books
  • Tom Holland (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

Last update: 2021-04-17


Runner Ups for Best Roman History Books

The Roman Revolution by Ronald Syme

The Roman Revolution follows the fall of the Roman Empire and the decline of Rome’s freedom. This limited freedom took place between 60 BC and AD 14. The text also follows the rise to power of the Roman Emperor, Augustus. This text has been considered highly controversial due to many of its opinions. Throughout the book, Syme argues that Augustus was doing what was needed to restore order for the people. Many readers have often described Syme and his work as cynical. However, that is an accusation you will need to judge for yourself.

What Makes it Unique:

  • Throughout much of the text, the author assumes that the audience has some prior knowledge of the events taking place within Rome. He does not provide an introduction to the topic but rather glosses over events that many readers may want to hear about. This happens concerning the wars happening between Julius Caesar and Pompey, as well as a few others.
  • The Roman Revolution is a political history book at best. His account vastly details Rome’s transition to an empire, as well as the events that transpired after.
  • The text is massively dense and maybe a hard read for some. It has been written with a scholarly level in mind, and most of its footnotes are in Greek or Latin.

Why Choose This Roman History Book:

  • This is an excellent text if you are looking for details concerning the mechanics of power within Rome. The author includes several observations about the government. It may be helpful to read a general history text about this time period before starting The Roman Revolution.
  • This is a fantastic place to start if you are looking for a text which details the last years of the Roman empire. Most readers can also come to a consensus that this is by no means an introductory text and should not serve as one.
  • The Roman Revolution is a text which is heavily referenced by other writers of the Roman Revolution.

The Roman Revolution
The Roman Revolution
  • New
  • Mint Condition
  • Dispatch same day for order received before 12 noon

Last update: 2021-04-17

The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon

The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire is a six-volume account of the Roman Empire’s decline by the late historian Edward Gibbon. The book traces It was published over the years 1776 to 1788. Edward Gibbon’s work is an essential contribution to historiography, and even today, these volumes are heavily referenced from a multitude of historians. The text begins its journey at the height of the Roman Empire and concludes with the fall of Byzantium.

What Makes it Unique:

  • The text covers several extensive areas of history and uses a multitude of primary resources; however, it still manages to remain objective.
  • The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire covers more than just detailed accounts of Caesar and Rome. It includes several other topics and locations like Christianity, Islam, Byzantine, Charlemagne, the Crusades, and so much more.
  • Within the first volume of Gibbons’s history, two chapters have remained particularly controversial. These are chapters 15 and 16, which focus on the origins of Christianity. This chapter did not sit well for many readers during Gibbon’s time, and he received several accusations concerning it.
  • Contrary to what you may believe, the text does not include substantial details surrounding the Byzantine Empire. Instead, the author covers this period spanning roughly 800 years with the last chapter of Volume 5.

Why Choose This Roman History Book:

  • This is a hard read but worth the effort. Many readers regard Edward Gibbons’s work as a classic and historical masterpiece. If reading all six volumes is too much of a chore, there is an abridged version available.
  • If you are looking for information detailed information on the Roman empire, this is an excellent text for that. However, it may be easier to tackle in chucks.

On Sale
The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (Penguin Classics)
The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (Penguin Classics)
  • Penguin Classics
  • Gibbon, Edward (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

Last update: 2021-04-17


Value Picks for Best Roman History Books

The History of Rome by Theodor Mommsen

The History of Rome is a multi-volume text covering the history of Rome. It was initially published as three volumes between the years 1854–1856. A fourth volume was later added in 1992. This volume was based on several notes of Theodor Mommsen, which were found by his students.

What Makes it Unique:

  • With each volume, Theodor Mommsen provides a chronological history of events and the conditions surrounding them.
  • Mommsen devotes several additional chapters to a range of topics including agriculture, religion, justice, literature, art, and even the Old Republic.
  • Mommsen provides readers with a history of Rome that starts at its conception in 753 BC and ends with the rise of Caesar.
  • Though much of the text remains neutral and presents the facts, Mommsen is not shy about adding in his opinions and does so often. He is particularly vocal about who should be considered a “hero” and have praise while eluding to others being in the right place at the right time. Several individuals who receive his criticism include Cato, Cicero, and Pompey.
  • The author provides a variety of details on Roman life and culture. On the one hand, Mommsen describes the milieu and the politics of Rome. Whereas, on the other, he pays great attention to detail when discussing warfare, art, and religion.

Why Choose This Roman History Book:

  • The History of Rome is dense but not unreadable. Many readers, despite the length, found it enjoyable as well as insightful and beautifully written. Some readers recommend that new readers possess some prior knowledge of Rome.
  • If you are looking for a text which will aid you in understanding the Roman Republic, this is it. However, this is not a text which is easily read. If you are not someone who is accustom to scholarly writing, this book may be hard to get through. However, hard is not impossible.

The History of Rome
The History of Rome
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 346 Pages - 08/08/2019 (Publication Date) - HardPress Publishing (Publisher)

Last update: 2021-04-17


How Rome Fell: Death of a Superpower by Adrian Goldsworthy

Adrian Goldsworthy presents How Rome Fell: Death of a Superpower. The text combines information with analysis to provide an exciting account of how the Roman empire fell. The book is written with extreme clarity and is perfect for students studying Roman History.

What Makes it Unique:

  • The text describes the history of the roaming empire from Marcus Aurelius’s reign until the reign of Heraclius, though in the book, he is not mentioned by name.
  • Within the pages of How Rome fell, the author also examines what life was like under each of the various rulers. Readers will see that there were significant periods of economic crisis and even religious hardship.
  • How Rome Fell: Death of a Superpower is presented in the form of a persuasive analysis with Adrian Goldsworthy hypothesizing that the Roman Empire fell due to its own internal hardships and struggles, which caused a weak structure. Many readers commented that though this is a topic that is often written about, it has never been done with such intrigue and tact.
  • Throughout the pages, several ineffective leaders and multiple civil wars are cited as significant reasons for the empire’s fall.

Why Choose This Roman History Book:

  • If you are someone who is looking to explore the context of the Roman Empire’s fall or are a student of Roman history, this is an excellent text to add to your collection.
  • How Rome Fell: Death of a Superpower is also recommended for readers who have no prior knowledge of the Roman Empire.

On Sale
How Rome Fell: Death of a Superpower
How Rome Fell: Death of a Superpower
  • Yale University Press
  • Goldsworthy, Adrian (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

Last update: 2021-04-17


How to Choose the Best Roman History Book for You

Choosing the perfect Roman history book doesn’t always have to be a chore though it may sometimes feel like one. Instead, it can be a fun and insightful process but not without some effort on your part. Before you can even begin to choose which book is right, you need to know what it is right for. Here we will provide you with an abundance of information and questions you can utilize when picking books on the Roman Revolution and beyond.

Simply searching anything concerning the Roman Empire, the revolution, or anything similar will yield a high number of textbooks for you to sift through. However, there are ways to determine if a text is right for us as well as ways to do your search as limited as possible.

What type of book are you looking for?

One of the essential things that you can do is pick the kind of text you are looking for. You must ask yourself if you are looking for a supplemental book or something to use as a reference for a similar course.

What is my current level of expertise?

One thing you should be mindful of is not picking a text that is out of your league. Though you may be a great reader, many of these Roman historical texts can get dense and become hard to get through.

If you know that reading a one-thousand-page text is unrealistic, don’t try to do it. One of the worst things you can do is pick a text which is at an expert level, and you are a beginner. You should select a book that corresponds to your level of understanding. Though it is good to challenge yourself, don’t overwhelm yourself.

What viewpoint does the book take on or provide? Is it objective?

Many readers have strong opinions about events in Roman history, especially the influence of Christianity and its effect on their culture. For many, this is a controversial subject.

For this reason, some readers may feel that textbooks can too biased or take on a viewpoint they are not interested in reading. It’s important to remember that every book will not be for you. You may consider a book to be too liberal or, on the contrary, too conservative in the information it brings forth.

Wrapping Up the Best Roman History Books

The books on this list contain massive amounts of information regarding Roman History. They can be used inside and outside of the classroom. They have been used as study resources, reference texts, and so much more. Even if you are not a student and simply have an interest in Roman History, these books can aid in that journey.

However, before any of these texts can be a help, you must choose the one which is right for you, and this can only begin when you know what it is you are looking for. To come to this conclusion, you must ask yourself a series of questions regarding your intent. Once you have taken the answers to these questions into account, you are ready to pick a resource.

SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome by Mary Beard is a superb text to read if you are attempting to brush up on the history of the Roman Empire. This is a text which all levels can still learn from. Another great read is Rubicon, the Last Years of the Roman Republic. This text is often recommended as a supplemental text for high school and college students, which elaborate on the fall of the Roman Republic.

Though some of the texts on this list are not the easiest read, the historical knowledge you will receive is unmatched. No matter what book you choose, we hope that you are fully prepared to enter the ancient world of Rome. Remember, there is no perfect text. Instead, you must figure out what fits your needs and go with it.

If you enjoyed this post, you’ll love our history book reviews here.

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